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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 65-79, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
10 Jan 2014
Propagation of radiosonde pressure sensor errors to ozonesonde measurements
R. M. Stauffer1, G. A. Morris2, A. M. Thompson1,3, E. Joseph4, G. J. R. Coetzee5, and N. R. Nalli6 1Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA
2Department of Physics and Astronomy, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana, USA
3NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
4Department of Physics and Astronomy, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA
5South African Weather Service, Pretoria, South Africa
6I.M. Systems Group, Inc., NOAA/NESDIS/STAR, College Park, Maryland, USA
Abstract. Several previous studies highlight pressure (or equivalently, pressure altitude) discrepancies between the radiosonde pressure sensor and that derived from a GPS flown with the radiosonde. The offsets vary during the ascent both in absolute and percent pressure differences. To investigate this problem further, a total of 731 radiosonde/ozonesonde launches from the Southern Hemisphere subtropics to northern mid-latitudes are considered, with launches between 2005 and 2013 from both longer term and campaign-based intensive stations. Five series of radiosondes from two manufacturers (International Met Systems: iMet, iMet-P, iMet-S, and Vaisala: RS80-15N and RS92-SGP) are analyzed to determine the magnitude of the pressure offset. Additionally, electrochemical concentration cell (ECC) ozonesondes from three manufacturers (Science Pump Corporation; SPC and ENSCI/Droplet Measurement Technologies; DMT) are analyzed to quantify the effects these offsets have on the calculation of ECC ozone (O3) mixing ratio profiles (O3MR) from the ozonesonde-measured partial pressure. Approximately half of all offsets are > ±0.6 hPa in the free troposphere, with nearly a third > ±1.0 hPa at 26 km, where the 1.0 hPa error represents ~ 5% of the total atmospheric pressure. Pressure offsets have negligible effects on O3MR below 20 km (96% of launches lie within ±5% O3MR error at 20 km). Ozone mixing ratio errors above 10 hPa (~ 30 km), can approach greater than ±10% (> 25% of launches that reach 30 km exceed this threshold). These errors cause disagreement between the integrated ozonesonde-only column O3 from the GPS and radiosonde pressure profile by an average of +6.5 DU. Comparisons of total column O3 between the GPS and radiosonde pressure profiles yield average differences of +1.1 DU when the O3 is integrated to burst with addition of the McPeters and Labow (2012) above-burst O3 column climatology. Total column differences are reduced to an average of −0.5 DU when the O3 profile is integrated to 10 hPa with subsequent addition of the O3 climatology above 10 hPa. The RS92 radiosondes are superior in performance compared to other radiosondes, with average 26 km errors of −0.12 hPa or +0.61% O3MR error. iMet-P radiosondes had average 26 km errors of −1.95 hPa or +8.75 % O3MR error. Based on our analysis, we suggest that ozonesondes always be coupled with a GPS-enabled radiosonde and that pressure-dependent variables, such as O3MR, be recalculated/reprocessed using the GPS-measured altitude, especially when 26 km pressure offsets exceed ±1.0 hPa/±5%.

Citation: Stauffer, R. M., Morris, G. A., Thompson, A. M., Joseph, E., Coetzee, G. J. R., and Nalli, N. R.: Propagation of radiosonde pressure sensor errors to ozonesonde measurements, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 65-79,, 2014.
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